Facts:

  • Book: The City and the City
  • Author: China Mieville
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Year of Release: 2009
  • Read 312-page paperback edition in September 2012.

Book Description: This fantasy novel by British author China Mieville follows the investigation of a young woman’s murder in the intricately linked but completely separated twin cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma.  Inspector Tyador Borlu must look into the crime, but he soon sees it taking on international political ramifications, and he must carefully skirt the boundaries of the two cities in an effort to unravel what has happened without getting killed himself.

Book Review: This novel was a very unique fantasy-mystery by writer Mieville.  By writing a fantasy novel about two cities that overlap each other and where you are not supposed to see the overlapping “other city” right under your nose, it is an interesting analysis to consider how we often overlook things within our own city every day.  Mieville doesn’t force this lesson on readers, he allows us to explore the concept and think about the implications ourselves, which is wonderful.  Although the unique plot and setting and overall messaging of the book is great, what doesn’t work 100% in this novel is the lack of full character development.  Borlu and his associates are not fully fleshed out in the story, which is unfortunate.  It is difficult to make that connection with the characters when they are not fully developed.  Furthermore, unlike a truly successful mystery, this one just doesn’t move quite as quickly; the story doesn’t quite grab you with the same level of intensity and suspense as other mysteries.  However, for these two flaws, this is still an enjoyable and thoughtful read.

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5

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